According to the most recent asthma data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asthma affects approximately 25 million Americans. For those who deal with this chronic condition, it can be a constant challenge to manage the condition successfully. To keep symptoms under control, it is important to recognize and avoid triggers and seek effective treatment from your healthcare team. You can learn more here about asthma triggers and how to avoid them.
Asthma is a chronic lung condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, which make it difficult for air to pass in and out of the lungs. Some common symptoms of asthma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Coughing (especially at nighttime or early in the morning)
The exact cause of asthma is unknown, but some people’s airways are sensitive to certain triggers, which causes the swelling and narrowing of the tubes, as well as contraction of the muscles in the airways, which can cause even further narrowing, resulting in symptoms of asthma.
Common Asthma Triggers
Signs and symptoms of asthma can be triggered by many different things, including allergens. These are usually harmless substances, but in some people they are capable of triggering an immune response that results in an allergic reaction in the airways. Asthma triggers differ from person to person, but generally include:
- Allergens, such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold, cigarette smoke, polluted air, perfume, and cleaning products
- Cold, dry air
- Physical exercise
- Stress or strong emotions
- Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Sulfites or preservatives (types of additives found in certain foods, wine, and other beverages)
In some cases, laughing or crying can even trigger asthma. Some people may also experience asthma when they have a cold, the flu, or bronchitis. Recognizing triggers is an important step in better managing the condition.
Avoiding and Managing Asthma Triggers
Understanding and managing your asthma triggers is essential for a long and healthy life. Although it isn’t always possible to avoid them, there are steps you can take to manage your asthma triggers more effectively.
Various allergens can trigger asthma symptoms, but dust mites, pollen, and pet dander are particularly common. To help reduce allergens in your home, keep your home environment clean by vacuuming and dusting regularly. Invest in a high-quality air purifier to reduce allergen levels indoors and consider using hypoallergenic bedding materials. Stay updated about local pollen counts during allergy season and minimize outdoor exposure on high pollen days.
- Air Pollution
Air pollution from traffic, industrial emissions, and other sources may aggravate asthma symptoms. Therefore, limit outdoor activities on days with high air pollution, and avoid exercising near busy roads during peak traffic hours. Consider using an indoor air purifier to reduce indoor air pollution.
- Exercise-Induced Asthma
Physical activity can sometimes trigger asthma symptoms, known as exercise-induced asthma. To improve symptoms, warm up and cool down properly when exercising, and try to breathe through your nose during workouts. Consult with your doctor about using a reliever inhaler before exercise to prevent symptoms, and choose activities that are less likely to trigger your asthma, such as swimming.
- Cold Air
Cold air can cause the airways to tighten and trigger asthma symptoms. Wear a scarf or mask over your nose and mouth when outside during the winter months. Use a humidifier inside your home to maintain a comfortable level of humidity.
Asthma Treatment: Be Prepared
Although asthma can’t be cured, symptoms can usually be controlled effectively with medication, lifestyle changes, and taking steps to avoid your triggers. You should always consult with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for your specific needs.
If you are diagnosed with asthma, your doctor can work with you to develop a personalized asthma treatment plan and action plan that outlines when to take medications and when to increase or decrease the dose of your medications (based on your symptoms).
The type of medication that you require depends on the severity of your asthma, your lung functioning, and the cause of your symptoms. Asthma can often be managed through the following treatments:
- Quick-relief medications: Also known as rescue or reliever inhalers, these medications work quickly to relax the muscles around the airways.
- Long-term control medications: These medications reduce inflammation and help control asthma symptoms over time.
- Tracking your asthma symptoms and using a peak flow meter on a regular basis to monitor how effectively your treatment plan is controlling your asthma symptoms.
Asthma often changes over time, so it is essential to have regular visits with your doctor to monitor and track your symptoms and adjust your treatment plan, as needed.
Recognizing Asthma Symptoms: Stay Vigilant
Early recognition of worsening asthma symptoms can help prevent an asthma flare-up or attack. Some warning signs to watch out for include:
- Increased shortness of breath or wheezing
- Persistent cough
- Difficulty sleeping due to asthma symptoms
- Increased reliance on your quick-relief inhaler
If you notice any of these warning signs, consult with your doctor to review your asthma management plan and make any necessary adjustments.
Living with asthma can be a challenge, but with the right knowledge and management plan, and by learning your triggers and how to avoid them, you can stay in control of your condition and keep symptoms at bay.
Comprehensive Asthma Care in Dallas, Texas
If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of asthma or have received an asthma diagnosis, visit Prime Internal Medicine Associates. Our experienced internist doctors believe in a comprehensive and personalized approach to chronic disease management with treatment plans that are developed specifically for your needs. We combine holistic techniques and traditional medical care to help you in your journey toward better health.
Don’t delay, if you are experiencing symptoms of asthma, arrange a consultation with one of our expert doctors today. Call us at (972) 239-5445 or use our convenient online appointment request form. We provide comprehensive healthcare to adults of all ages in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area.